Category Archives: Family

TEN SURE ISN’T ELEVEN

It is clearly not his 10th year anymore!

I love picking Evan up after school. We have twenty minutes to ourselves and since he is the eldest grandchild I miss all the alone time we used to have.

I remember spending time with my grandparents fondly. They lived in the upstairs apartment and we lived on the ground floor. Like Evan I was the oldest grandchild, my sisters are twins and four years younger than me. I always thought that I spent so much time with them because I was the ‘favourite’….. Then in late 2005, my eldest daughter Meegan had her twins, Norah and Jacob. Sometime during the next year, spent in her basement HELPING out, it dawned on me that maybe there was another reason why my mother sent her 4 year old upstairs to visit all the time.

To get back to my story…Evan and I sit and talk while we wait for his brother to get out of school. I want Evan to remember this time too.

Most of our memorable conversations these days start with:

Evan: “So Grandma….do you know the difference between a WWI and a WWII tank?”

Me: “No,” (Me staring blankly, while he explains in great detail.)

Or Evan: “Grandma, you know what black holes are ” right?”

Me: “I wrote an astronomy paper in university about black holes.”

Evan: “Really?” (Looking at me with shocked disbelief, or admiration. Not sure which.)

But sometimes they are innocence busting conversations such as:

Evan: “Grandma, so about the tooth fairy…”

Me: (Now he had my ATTENTION.) “What about the tooth fairy Evan?” I mumbled when I finally could get my brainstem to re-boot my breathing.

Evan: “Well I know she isn’t real, but I don’t know how to tell mom.“

Me: “How did you FIND OUT?”

Evan: “You just hear things when you’re eleven, you know?”

Me: (Swallowing the smirk.)..”Yes.”

Next day:

Evan: “So Grandma, how was your day?”

Me: “Great and yours?”

Evan: “Well about Santa…..”

Me: “What about him Evan (gulp)?”

Evan: “I just can’t believe how much trouble mom went to the last two years, making the videos, placing the foot prints on the fireplace and finding glasses to leave on the table…”

Me: “She loves you and Gibson very much Evan.”

Last year this discussion went something like this:

Evan: Why do some kids think there’s no Santa. Do they really believe their parents can afford to spend all that money on gifts? I think we should post our video on the internet so everyone can see the REAL thing. And just where would someone get glasses exactly like Santa’s? I hope he has a spare pair. Well the elves could probably make him new ones. I bet he leaves glasses lots of places on his travels…I wonder if there is a Lost & Found for Santa glasses? …. All said in one long breath…

Me: SILENCE … Not touching this one with a ten foot pole…

Oh to be ten again!

(LD, 2012)

My Inner Child

(The Lifetime Struggle with the Results of Childhood Sexual Abuse)

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People who know me

Won’t wish to know this,

But twenty long years is all I can take.

Then the psychotic child buried deep within

claws her way to the surface

Once more.

Daily sanity checks,

While battles ensue.

Dormant nightmares emerge,

Terrifyingly real,

To wreck havoc on what’s left

of a fragile, damaged soul.

Why, oh why, after all this time

can the past have such a hold

On the present?

Will the primeval lament of the victim be assuaged,

or will HE finally,

ultimately,

shamelessly,

win in the end?

 

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My inner child is 13 years old.

Even after all these years, she is infatuated,

In love with her hero and protector.

She worships him.

In her eyes, he is handsome and all powerful,

A church leader well respected by his peers and community.

He takes her places, and gives her gifts.

He never forgets to remind her how important she is to him,

Showering her with attention.

He makes her feel needed and special.

Sex is new to her and he is her teacher.

He knows how to excite her

And her body responds to his cues.

These are things she will never forget.

Because she is so young, she is hardwired to him,

Innately determined sexually, to him forevermore.

They have a secret life.

If discovered, he would lose everything, his job, family, vocation.

She, too, would lose everything,

Every single thing important to her…in a word…him.

Secondary to this child is the fear instilled in her by him,

Explaining what could happen to her family,

If anyone ever found out – and it would be all her fault.

He gives her permission to lie and be deceitful

In order to protect his interests.

She is in love and does so willingly over time.

The consequences of not following his advice

Are too horrible to consider…

The end of the world –

her world, forever.

 

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But still the question remains,

Why am I so different?

Well for one thing, it could be the abuse.

Or maybe it’s because I can’t remember …

Thirteen? I was 13?

Funny, I don’t recollect anything but the abuse…

Welcome to my world.

Maybe that’s caused by the trauma?

Yes trauma changes people, we do tend to see the world differently.

Others think that just because we can recognize this fact,

That we should be able to make the changes

To become normal,

React like everyone else, a non traumatized person …

It is mind over matter – is it not?

Nope. Not even close.

Hyper-vigilant and sensitive to any minute change

We live our lives damaged, needy, feeling abandoned,

Trouble trusting,

Expecting the worst

Not the way a life should be lived, ever.

 

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BLOW THAT HOUSE DOWN!

“Just as victims of child sexual abuse use the Accommodation Syndrome to protect their fragile psyches, so can those suffering any type of debilitating abuse over time revert to this type of deviant behavior.”

 

April 2015

When is a house not just a ‘house’? I suppose it’s when it is described as a pretty, little, pink, Cape Cod cottage at 57 Bayview Drive in Old Towne Port Dalhousie, Ontario. It no longer exists. The lot has been renumbered to 61 where another house now resides but that doesn’t stop people, now  twenty-three years later, from still driving — slowly by, looking…

 

June 15, 1991

In the early hours of June 15th 1991, Leslie Mahaffey, 14 was abducted after making a phone call at a convenience store near her home in Burlington.

There was little publicity since the initial reaction to her disappearance was that she had run away. Family, friends and police expected her to eventually turn up safe and sound.

Turn up she did, but not safe and definitely not sound.

On June 30th, two weeks after her disappearance, fishermen discovered her dismembered body, encased in blocks of cement in Lake Gibson in Thorold, a three minute drive from my home….

 

Twenty-four weeks later . . . .

December 1, 1991

On the evening of November 30, 1991, Terri Anderson, 14 went to a party intending to stay the night at a friend’s home. Her father was surprised when she returned home shortly before 1:00 am.

Sometime later that night Terri went back out into the cold night leaving the front door of their townhouse ajar . . . never to be seen alive again.

A massive search was undertaken, but nothing was found. Media reports stated that her estranged mother felt that she might have run away to Toronto.

Twenty-weeks later and uncomfortably close to Terri Anderson’s home . . . .

 

April 16, 1992

On April 16, 1992, the day before Good Friday, Kristen French, a fifteen year old student at Holy Cross Secondary School in north St. Catharines was abducted from a church parking lot in broad daylight while walking home.

Two weeks later, on April 30th, Kristen’s nude body was found on a back road in Burlington, only a few kilometers from the spot where Leslie Mahaffey had been abducted.

The forensic evidence determined that Kristen had been kept captive for at least ten days before she was asphyxiated. She had been sexually assaulted and her long brown hair had been cropped close to her skull.

The public was shocked, outraged and terrified.

 

Three weeks later . . .

May 22, 1992 …

Terri Anderson’s partially clothed body was spotted floating in Lake Ontario near Port Dalhousie by fishermen.

Although the autopsy could not determine the cause of her death — it did rule out drowning. Further blood tests revealed she had ingested some LSD before she expired…

Police ruled out any ‘foul play’ in her death and assured the public that there was no connection between Terri’s death and the murders of Leslie and Kristen.

 

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The abduction of Kristen French sent shock waves throughout the Niagara community. No one remained untouched by the tragedy.

As the days passed the confidence that she’d be found alive was slowly giving way to a almost paralyzing fear. Adding to this growing fear was the fact that only five months earlier, Terri Anderson, (who was still listed as missing when Kristen’s body was discovered), had disappeared very close to where Kristen was abducted.

When Kristen’s body was found, public fear turned to outrage. How could someone disappear, be held captive and murdered without someone having seen something? Why couldn’t the police find the ‘cream-coloured Camaro’ reported by witnesses?

Unfortunately the police’s method of handling this sensitive issue, may have done them and their credibility more harm than good. Officially released statements at first denied any link between the murders of Leslie and Kristen and the disappearance (and subsequently discovered death) of Terri Anderson. Could it be that they originally thought that the public would rest easier thinking that instead of one psychopath – a serial killer – roaming the streets of Niagara, that there were maybe two, or more? When they later admitted that they were indeed investigating the possibility of some connection between the Leslie Mahaffey and Kristen French murders, people questioned why they hadn’t just admitted that in the first place.

However it wasn’t until the Kristen French story was aired on major television channels across Ontario that public seriously began to question the abilities of those conducting the investigations. The program which focused on the FBI profile of Kristen’s abductor(s) brought many new facts to light. First of all the public was told that there was more than one person involved. The police had known this for some time but had chosen to say nothing. Secondly, although witnesses had provided the details for composite sketches of the two suspects in the case, the police had deliberately withheld them for many weeks. The reasons given for this lack of communication were less than satisfactory leaving the local media and many others in the community questioning the accuracy and integrity of the police-released information.

People were confused and frightened not knowing who to trust anymore. The police spokesmen continued to be optimistic giving the impression that these cases would be solved quickly and the murderers identified and prosecuted.

However, in the Police department’s attempts to keep a disturbed public calm, a preoccupied media at bay, and in deference to their own wishes to capture this psychotic before more deaths occur, they unwittingly caused themselves more problems. This, of course, is not an uncommon situation in these cases.

As the days began to drag into weeks and the weeks into months it was apparent that either these cases were not going to be solved so simply, or the Niagara Regional Police Force just wasn’t up to the job. Public confidence soon changed to public rancour. Debates were held in the community where open discussions occurred not about the murders but about the investigations. It seemed that the frustration mixed with fear was clearly directed at the police force and its credibility.

It has now been over six months since Kristen French’s murder. The Green Ribbon Task Force has its own headquarters and has expanded in size and jurisdiction having seconded officers from other regions to help co-ordinate the investigation. Thousands of cream-coloured Camaro’s have been checked and hundreds of tips have been explored.

To date no suspect has been apprehended and the stories in the press are dwindling.

October 1992

 

Now more than 23 years later very few people in Ontario have not heard of Paul Bernardo and Karla Holmolka the murderous duo who were finally arrested and convicted of these horrendous crimes.

Originally I researched and wrote this essay for my sociology course in deviance. As I wrote I realized that it also served to demonstrate my mixed-up thinking. It would be years before I understood that being abused by an Anglican priest from the age of twelve to sixteen was influencing my thought processes.

After Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka were arrested, I found myself identifying with Karla. I had no idea why. More than that, it made me extremely uncomfortable. Even though all my research pointed to her engaging in the horrific crimes with as much enjoyment as her deranged husband, I could not get the picture of her bruised, swollen, and beaten face out of my mind. His complete control over her, not even allowing her to go to work on her own, or visit her family alone, seemed to me his way of brainwashing her to do his will.

I saw her as tortured, beaten, and compliant, afraid for herself and willing to do anything to make him happy, even when it meant sacrificing her own younger sister. Needless to say, this was not the feeling the media or, for that matter, any of my friends or associates thought rational or logical. I soon learned to keep my thoughts to myself but never overcame this feeling.

This haunts me to this day.

Karla finished her prison time some years ago, moved away and from all accounts started a family. Many thought she should have been punished longer. I firmly believe that she will continue to punish herself for her role for the rest of her life. And so it should be. The psychology behind her culpability may never really be known or for that matter accepted but in my mind, she too, was a victim.

Bernardo will be eligible to apply for parole in 2020. Some say he will never be released. Many pray that to be true.

Me, I have now completed a memoir that is an attempt to deal with my past and come to grips with how someone with life and death power over me influenced how I have seen myself over these many years.

Maybe that is why I note the similarities with Karla. Although horrifically diverse, the results on an impressionable mind are unfortunately somewhat the same. In this type of serial murder the psychology notes that the perpetrator needs a partner in order to get the thrill of scaring someone else to death while torturing their victims. Unfortunately Karla fit the role perfectly. ((Not unlike the Svengali defense))

Even now, years later, late at night, I still find myself wondering what would have changed to alter this series of tragic events had someone intervened and gotten Karla the help she needed so many years ago.

We will never know…

 

 

I ❤ Gardening

For years I have been an amateur horticulturalist… Yeah, right… Maybe ‘gardener’ is more to the point and maybe, if I asked my husband and grandsons who do all the actual ‘work’, they’d have another errr name for me…. Careful now boys, I am the one making lunch.

Okay…I am a supervisor.

I love the aesthetics of a well-planned garden and in the past worked very hard, on hands and knees to create my visions. Now I can gaze at clumps ablaze with spring perennials poking their way up out of the frozen earth to give colour to the snow. Bushes, blooming with all shades of green buds, usher in the warmer climes at a time when we need it most. Annuals bordering tall grasses, swaying in the warm breezes of an early spring. I love it all.

Carefully garden ornaments and focal points are removed from the sheds. Hours are spent cleaning and polishing, after a long winter’s respite. Gently they are put back into their places in the young, but growing daily, landscape. The children smell the hyacinths and fragrant lilacs knowing from experience which scent and which do not. They’ve been taught to eat from the garden too, but not yet. That will come further into the summer when they will steal a raspberry, blackberry or cherry tomato, popping them into their mouths as they play in the back garden.

We used to have a glorious cherry tree on the perimeter of our property. No one ate the cherries. They were left for the birds; but the flowers smell and beauty was a herald of spring. During a horrendous wind storm, a couple of years ago,  much to our and the birds’ dismay, it fell. It must have been at least sixty years old. It was a very sad day and we still miss it come springtime.

This year I have the honour of being the President of our local Horticulture Society. I think it’s just my turn, but hey, I still have the title.  That being the case I,  (I=Royal-We), may even attempt some major re-decorating, garden style.

Shhh . . .Don’t mention this to my husband and grandsons though; I think it might be better as a surprise ….

 

First day of Spring, Wednesday, 20 March 2013DB11

It’s Not all Fun, Games and Parrots on the Garage Roof at 36 Dorchester Road

(Written in 2013. Dale passed away in October of 2013 and is very much missed…LD)

DDI have two sisters. They are twins and four years my junior. They are as unalike as two people can be. They are both female and their initials are D. J. They both have dark brown hair, one child and work, or have worked in the medical field. However, that’s as far as it goes.

The last time they spent any quality time together was most likely in the womb. While bad driving was Dennie’s claim to fame, Dale’s is much more concerning and not quite as humorous unless, of course, you consider runaway squirrels in the I.C.U. funny !

A few years ago she went in for some emergency surgery, and woke up four months later. No one is really sure why. Doctors at the time advised shutting off the respirator, as they mistakenly thought she would never recover. She must have heard them because by the next morning she was showing signs of survival. Eventually she found her way out of the coma, learned to walk again and went back to work in the ER of our local hospital.

Two years later suffering from a respiratory infection she was again seen in the Emergency room. By evening she was once more put on life support. This time it was over three months until she finally emerged from her second coma. Miracles both. No debate with that. This time however her recovery wasn’t as complete and she is now mostly wheel chair bound and has taken a forced retirement. Having worked for 35 years that was a no brainer.

Anyway when she came out of the first coma did she have a story! Seems they evacuated everyone one on her floor in the middle of the night…All except her that is. By morning however the coast was clear, (I’m guessing here) and everyone was back in their designated beds, with one particular addition.

Somehow, a squirrel got into the I.C.U. (Stop laughing…) Seriously, a little brown, bushy tailed rodent was scurrying up and down the hallways of the 6th Floor and hiding …(drum roll) in Dale’s room, behind the curtains! Medication aside, people coming out of lengthy comas do have a tendency to hallucinate or at least think some of their ‘dreams’ while comatose were real. Time and long talks usually put all these things to rest.

Last week when reminiscing she looked at me somewhat annoyed and said: “You know it’s not nice to make fun of me …I had been sick and in a coma.”

Chastised and remorseful as only a big sister can be, I replied, “I realize that Dale but three months later you were still claiming that happened.”

Her response: “Oh yeah.”

In the last couple of years she has had a ‘few’ other delusionary episodes.
There was the “man with the pants” walking around her backyard – while we were playing cards, the little girl on her deck and my favourite, the parrot on the garage roof! The latest was two days ago when she called me at 4:00 AM because she couldn’t find her phone to call her son-in-law.

I warned her some time ago, keep this up and you’re going to appear in my novel….

All kidding aside, hopefully a change in her meds will solve this quirkiness, but oh how I am going to miss these additions to my story telling. Wonder if she would consider learning how to drive again? From what I remember she never once in her driving history ever turned left!

Maybe she had more in common with Dennie than I ever thought …

I started to ‘blog’ way back in 2008… but life intervened…So here I am again, older, hopefully wiser and grounded, literally in garden work and spring.